IBM has joined with eFuture Information Technology, Inc. to offer software to the retail distribution industry in China. The application is being delivered under the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. It is already being deployed at select stores of the Beijing Wangfujing Department Store Group. According to the two companies, the initiative has brought some 2,000 of the retailer's suppliers onto the platform, allowing them to exchange business information, arrange payments online and access purchase orders, returns, payment status, inventory levels and analysis of sales data. The new SaaS tool is intended to address retailers' growing need for tighter management of inventories, increased supply-chain efficiencies, improved labor productivity and lower costs. Using a terminal linked to the internet, a supplier can log onto the system and handle all of its business transactions from order processing to settlement. At the same time, retailers can monitor the entire process, including orders, delivery, inventory and payment on a real-time basis. IBM and eFuture, a specialist in supply-chain management systems for China's distribution sector, have collaborated on the development of software for the country's retail industry since 2005. IBM has integrated its SaaS infrastructure platform, developed by IBM China Research Lab, with eFuture's applications. Running on WebSphere Application Server and DB2 database, the jointly created system is based on IBM's service-oriented architecture (SOA) technology. It covers supply-chain execution, task tracking and performance measurement. IBM is also responsible for the post-launch operation and maintenance.
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